"We are in the midst of another exciting academic year at Valley City State University," said Dr. Steve Shirley, president, as he began the 2009 State of the University Address.
His comments began by reviewing several developments that have occurred since his first State of the University address one year ago. He mentioned the recent approval VCSU received that allows it to offer a fourth concentration in its online Master of Education degree: English Language Learners. Other accomplishments include physical upgrades to campus facilities, such as a new IT data center, and being named to the U.S.News "Best Colleges" list for the 12th year in a row. He described initiatives that use technology to expand the reach of academic programs and enhance the student experience for both on-campus students and for students learning from a distance. He said these developments have created "an excellent foundation."
Dr. Shirley then described collaborative and partnership programs that help VCSU serve a wider base of students. These include new participation in the Dakota Nursing Program, delivery of elementary education programs to community colleges in Wyoming, and others.
Regarding athletics, Dr. Shirley described initiatives to add new offerings for student athletes including new golf, track & field, and cross country teams. He also specially highlighted recognition the Viking women's basketball and softball teams received for outstanding grade point averages and academic excellence.
Turning his attention to enrollment, Dr. Shirley reviewed the enrollment gains seen this year over last year, a 6.3% increase in headcount which led to the largest figure in nine years. He reminded the audience that much work is yet to be done before reaching the goal of welcoming 200 new freshmen in a single class, and restated his belief that it is everyone's responsibility to work towards that goal. "Regardless of whether you are a faculty member, staff member, current student, administrator, alumni, a community member, or a general friend of the university - you have a role to play in assisting Valley City State University recruit and retain students."
Among other initiatives going forward, Dr. Shirley described gains in creating international opportunities for students, steps towards becoming a more environmentally responsible campus (including participation in city's new recycling initiatives), and the resumption of campus-wide discussions reviewing the role of technology at VCSU.
In closing, Dr. Shirley restated a theme that was prominent in his recent inaugural address by saying, "We will Explore, we will Reach, and we will Achieve together. Our work is certainly not done, but we are well on our way, and the path is becoming more defined every day."
The full text of Dr. Shirley's State of the University address is available by clicking here